Victim-blaming is one of the most damaging components of rape culture, but, as a councilwoman from New York just proved during an interview with CNN, it's also one of the simplest to shut down: Just don't engage.
When councilwoman Laurie Cumbo appeared on CNN to discuss the brutal gang rape of a teenage girl that took place in Brooklyn last week, host Pamela Brown responded to her impassioned plea for better anti-rape legislation and an end to rape culture by pointing out that the victim was allegedly "drunk and combative" according to law enforcement.
"I would say that that's typical of just exactly what I spoke about," Cumbo responded calmly. "Individuals often talk about the woman. They rarely talk about the individuals who actually committed the rape. That's what we should focus on."
Brown started in with a "But--" but Cumbo cut her off, saying, "We shouldn't talk about whether she was drunk, or whether she was properly dressed or the time of the evening that it happened. That's too typical of the situation of how we discuss rape in the city, the nation and really the world."
"We need to focus...on those five individuals that created this heinous crime," Cumbo continued, "and what were the bad decisions that they made all throughout the day? Had they been drinking? Had they been smoking?"
Cumbo then went on to point out that the rape happened in Brownsville, a predominantly black neighborhood she said is often "neglected," and suggested that the perpetrators may have been thinking, "no one really cares what we do in this community."
"We're discussing this matter because we want to let individuals know, whether you're on the Upper East Side or Brownsville, all women matter," Cumbo finished. "And we're here to make sure that message is sent loud and clear."
Loud and clear indeed, Councilwoman Cumbo. ???